In addition to the two well-recognized schools, there is another school of Neo-Confucianism discussed by several scholars. It is called the Hu–Liu school, named after Hu Hong (胡宏, 1106–1161) and Liu Zongzhou (劉宗周 1578–1645). According to some scholars, the lineage of the school goes back to early Neo-Confucians such as Zhou Dunyi, Zhang Zai, and Cheng Hao. Jeong (Jeong 2016, p. 67
) explained that Yulgok Yi I’s (a leading Korean Neo-Confucian in the Joseon dynasty) philosophy was closer to Zhang Zai and Hu Hong’s Neo-Confucianism than to the Cheng–Zhu’s Neo-Confucianism.
The Lu–Wang (陸王) school was a Neo-Confucian school founded by Lu Jiuyuan (陸九淵, 1139–1192) and Wang Yangming (王陽明, 1472–1529), often called the school of xin (i.e., the school of the Confucian heart–mind).
Broadly, Neo-Confucianism is defined as “a category employed to describe a set of ‘family resemblances’ discerned across clusters of philosophical ideas, technical terms, arguments, and writings…in other words, concepts, ideas, and discourse rather than schools” (Makeham 2010, p. xii
). See (Angle and Tiwald 2017
) for a general explanation of Neo-Confucianism.
) pointed out that a statement of moral ought is not justified by a statement of fact. In a similar context, (Moore 1903/2004
) argued that moral properties cannot be explained by natural properties.
The mind can represent and understand how and why things happen, but it can also represent and intend how things should (ideally) happen in its understanding of moral values and virtues.
Takahashi’s (Takahashi 1929/2001
) discussion of Korean Neo-Confucianism was close to this type of interpretation. He explained Toegye’s and Yulgok’s (the two major philosophers of Korean Neo-Confucianism) philosophical views along the lines of party politics. According to him, Toegye was the founder of the li
school (主理派), and Yulgok was the founder of the qi
school (主氣派). From the perspective of politics, the two groups were in direct conflict (li
and the Eastern party (東人) against the Western party (西人). However, from the viewpoint of philosophy, they were not necessarily conflicting or contradicting with each other. For example, it is wrong to say that Yulgok was the founder of the qi
school (主氣派). He did not believe in the ontological dominance of qi
: He believed that everything is a particular combination of li
. He even said that “it is a mistake to conclude that filthy things do not have principle [li
]” (Yulgok’s letter to Ugye’s second letter) (Kalton 1994, p. 119
See (Choe 2009
) for the mentalizing tendency of Korean Neo-Confucianism.
For a full explanation of the historical and philosophical background of the Four-Seven Debate, see (Ahn 2009a
). For a book-length discussion of the Four–Seven Debate, see (Chung 1995
). In what follows, the Four refers to Mencius’s four morally specific emotions and the Seven refers to the ordinary, morally neutral emotions listed in the Book of Rites
In this paper, I use the pen names of Korean Neo-Confucian philosophers following the general convention.
In his letter to Kobong, Toegye wrote, “Some years ago, when Mr. Chong [Jeong Ji-Un] made his diagram, it included the thesis that the Four Beginnings issue from principle and the Seven Feelings issue from material force. My opinion was that the dichotomy was too stark and would lead to controversy” (Toegye’s response to Kobong’s first letter) (Kalton 1994, p. 8
Toegye and Kobong disagreed on the contributions of li
to morally specific and morally neutral emotions. Toegye stated that “…The issuance of the Four Beginnings [the Four] is purely a matter of principle and therefore involves nothing but good; the issuance of the Seven Feelings includes material force and therefore involves both good and evil” (Toegye’s first replay to Kobong) (Kalton 1994, p. 11
). Against Toegye’s view, Kobong argued that, “Man’s feelings are but one, and what they are as feelings definitely combines principles [li
] and material forces [qi
] and has both good and evil” (Kobong’s second response to Toegye) (Kalton 1994, p. 21
does not have physical form (無形) and active function (無爲). Kobong stated that, “The two [li
] are certainly distinct, but when it comes to their presence in actual things, they are certainly mixed together and cannot be separated. It’s just that principle is weak while material force is strong; principle has no concrete sign, but material force is physically in evidence” (Kobong’s first letter to Toegye) (Kalton 1994, p. 6
). See Yulgok’s reply to Ugye’s sixth letter (Kalton 1994, p. 175
Zhu Xi (Zhu 1997, Zhuxiji 朱熹集45
) stated that one can talk about the movement of li
(太極, the ultimate supreme, the ultimate foundation of all beings) figuratively but, in its original sense, li
cannot move or affect other things because if they do, they violate the distinction between the two states (i.e., having physical form and not having physical form (形而上下者不可分). Li
are beyond physical forms. They do not have physical forms. Therefore, they do not physically affect other things.
Generally, this view (qi
is the cause of evil) was received widely among Neo-Confucians. For example, by quoting the following passage from the Neo-Confucian Anthology
傳習錄), Wong (Wong 2009, p. 149
) states that “according to the Cheng Brothers the sources of moral badness lie in the native endowment of qi
, the body, and the inherent desires of human beings.” Someone asked Cheng Yi, “Man’s nature is originally good. Why is it that some people cannot change?” [Cheng Yi replied], “In terms of their nature, all men are good. In terms of their ‘native endowments’ (cai
, 才), there are the most stupid who do not change. The most stupid are of two kinds, those who do violence to their own nature and those who throw themselves away.”
Toegye commented on Jeong Jiun’s view expressed in Jeong’s the Diagram of the Mandate of Heaven
(天命圖). Jeong stated that the Four arise from li
and the Seven arise from qi
(四端發於理 七情發於氣). On the basis of his understanding of Zhu Xi’s statement (四端是理之發 七情是氣之發, Zhu 1986, Zhuzi Yulei 53:20a
), Toegye corrected Jeong’s statement to “the Four originate from li
and the Seven originate from qi
“(四端理之發 七情氣之發). Jeong focused on the causal generation of the Four and the Seven, but Toegye stressed their different originations (i.e., different natures or founding sources). Later Toegye changed his own view in the process of the Four-Seven debate.
Kobong noted that “if one regards the Four Beginnings as being issued by principle and [hence] as nothing but good, and the Seven Feelings as issued by material force and so involving both good and evil, then this splits up principle and material force and makes them two [distinct] things. It would mean that the Seven Feelings do not emerge from the nature and the Four Beginnings do not mount on material force [to issue]. What such wording conveys cannot but be considered problematic and the later students of the matter will certainly have doubts about it” (Kobong’s Letter to Toegye) (Kalton 1994, pp. 4–5
I will explain the nature of this unbridgeable gap in the following section.
“Nature” (xing, 性) here means very generally a deeply engrained disposition or trait. It does not necessarily refer to the permanent and essential property of a given species or individual in a Platonic or Aristotelian sense.
For example, Toegye once thought that the distinction between the Four and the Seven is similar to the distinction between the original nature and qi
-affected nature: He stated that, “Once I thought confusingly that the distinction between the Four and the Seven is similar to the distinction between the original nature and qi
-affected nature” (故愚嘗忘以爲情之有 四端七情之分 猶性之本性氣稟之異也) (Yi 1997, vol. 2, pp. 411–12
Later Yi Ik (李瀷 1681–1763, pen name Seong Ho 星湖) argue against the distinction between the original nature and the qi
-affected nature. He does not believe that human beings have two entirely different forms of nature. The two forms of nature are just two different modes of the same underlying nature founded on li
’s activity. He simply states that “the original nature and the qi
affected nature are not two natures. …The nature is one” (本然之性與氣稟之性 非二性也…性一也) (Yi 1999
; Jeong 2013, p. 46 n16
In the Doctrine of the Mean (Zhongyong 中庸), there is a passage where the balance and articulation (中節) are mentioned: “The state before the arousal of pleasure, anger, sorrow, or joy is called balance (中). When they are aroused with balance and articulation, they are called harmony (和)” (喜怒哀樂之未發謂之中 發而皆中節謂之和).
When emotions reach their due measure, they achieve heavenly harmony and goodness. For example, Kobong stated that, “Although the Seven can be categorized as qi
is already included in it. When they issue and reach their due measure, they are called heavenly endowed nature and the original substance. In that case, how can they be regarded as issuing from qi
and be different from the Four?” (Yi 1997, 1:440b, 441a
). However, Kobong also believed that even the Four can be unbalanced or unharmonized in actual experience of the Four (Hong 2014, p. 274
). That is, to Kobong, harmony and disharmony were a more important distinction than intrinsic and accidental goodness of the Four and the Seven in the moral psychology of emotion.
Zhu Xi (Zhu Xi Yulei, 53) states that “regarding the moral emotions of pity/compassion and shame/dislike, there are balance/harmony and imbalance/disharmony. It is as if there are appropriate and inappropriate pity/compassion and appropriate and inappropriate shame/dislike depending on their balance and harmony” (惻隱羞惡也 有中節不中節 若不當惻隱而惻隱 不當羞惡而羞惡 便是不中節).
For example, (Kim 2015a, p. 563
) stated that to explain practical effectiveness and moral efficacy, direct moral authority is necessary in Neo-Confucian thought. That is, beyond li
, Korean Neo-Confucians felt a need to develop a separate foundation for morality. “Tasan [Dasan] put the Lord on High in the place of li
for the very practical reason that people had ceased to acknowledge the authority of li
. He took this stance of putting practical effectiveness above logical consistency, but it was not just because he was a scholar of the Practical Learning School (Sirhak
) in the late Choson [Joseon] Dynasty. This viewpoint is also found in the discussions by Neo-Confucian scholars in the early Choson [Joseon] Dynasty, such as the debates on the Four Beginnings and the Seven Emotions. In that sense, the effectiveness for realizing Confucian ideals is often more decisive than theoretical consistency in the formation of theories or arguments in Confucianism or Neo-Confucianism, even though it cannot be denied that logical consistency or theoretical preciseness are important for the validity of Confucian theories, given that the goal of theoretical debates in Confucianism is the actualization of moral life and realization of an ethical society.”
), a Japanese Neo-Confucian scholar in the early 20th century, believed that Dasan was faithful to the spirit of Toegye’s philosophy that emphasized the primacy of moral philosophy over and beyond the li
cosmology of Zhu Xi’s Neo-Confucianism. See (Kim 2010
) for further discussion.
For the broad historical background of Dasan’s philosophy, see (Baek 2012
Hanul (한 울) means heaven, oneness, and unity. The two major teachings of Donghak (東學, the Eastern Learning) are (a) serving and respecting the Heavenly Lord (侍天主) and (b) recognizing the oneness of human being and Heaven (人乃天).
See Lee’s (Lee 2017
) discussion of Choi Je-wu’s Donghak philosophy and its practical moral orientation.
In his discussion of the practical learning (Sirhak) school, Choe Namseon (崔南善) (Choe 1930
) identified two subsections of the Sirhak school, introspective practical philosophy and political economical philosophy. Both Seongho’s (Yi Ik’s) and Dasan’s (Jeong Yakyong’s) discussions of moral psychology and cultivation belonged to the former subsection of Sirhak.
This type of theistic orientation can be found in Nakae Toju’s (中江藤樹, 1608–1648) philosophy from the perspective of Yangming Neo-Confucianism. See (Bodart-Bailey 1997, p. 670
). Although there are some comparable philosophical orientations, Dasan and Choi Je-wu were not Yangming Neo-Confucians.
Mencius stated (7A1) that, “To preserve one’s mental constitution, and nourish one’s nature, is the way to serve Heaven” (存其心 養其性 所以事天也).
See (Adler 1999
) and (Wang 2005
) for full details of Zhou Dunyi’s Neo-Confucian philosophy and cosmology.
See (Baker 2004
) for further details of Dasan’s philosophy and its interaction with Catholicism.
For example, in the same philosophical school, Dasan’s senior Yi Ik (pen name Seongho, 1681–1763), emphasized the moral will and intention of an agent and gave up the strict distinction between the Four and the Seven on the basis of li
’s and qi
’s differential contributions to human emotion. See (Jeong 2013, pp. 49–50